LETTER – Health policies regarding wood smoke need to be updated

Dear editor,

RE: Candidates respond favourably to air quality questionnaire, Oct. 3.

I am pleased to see local political candidates expressing a favourable interest in reducing harmful exposure of wood smoke in the Comox Valley. As a fourth year bachelor of science in nursing student from North Island College I have learned about the widespread harmful impacts that fine particulates released from wood burning have on cardiovascular and respiratory health.

The World Health Organization (WHO) states polluted air leads to complex health issues such as stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, pulmonary diseases and respiratory infections (WHO, 2018). The WHO estimates 7 million people die annually from exposure related to fine particulates (2018); the Comox Valley is not an exception to this statement. The Comox Valley has an ongoing air pollution problem impacting the health of all citizens, particularly the at-risk populations of young children and older adults (Breathe Clean Air, 2018).

The cleanliness of the air we breath is not up to us; we breathe the fine particulates released from burnt wood from neighbouring houses all around us. I see smoke being released into the air in many Comox Valley neighbourhoods during the winter months. As a concerned nursing student who understands health impacts of smoke exposure I am eager to see policy changes in support of improved environmental health. Government policies can support regulatory measures of protecting our right to clean air and reducing emissions, as well as provide better incentives for people moving to clean heating sources (Breathe Clean Air, 2018).

I want to encourage the new city counsellors to protect public safety by supporting and implementing positive environmental health policy changes. As citizens of the Comox Valley we must pursue steps towards changing policy regulations through awareness and advocacy.

For more information and how you can get involved locally visit: https://breathecleanair.ca

Emma Paul,

Courtenay

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